'I wasn't really looking for a house when I saw this one four years ago," says the English-born owner of this home in Herzliya Pituah. "We were living in a very prestigious apartment complex and I had come out house-hunting for my son. We passed this house and the agent said it was for sale and suggested we take a look."
The owner had often passed and admired the Provence-style house with its wooden shutters, set in a quiet street near the main thoroughfare, and once inside she knew it was right for her, although her first reaction was that she was in trouble because she liked it so much.
"It spoke to my heart," she recalls. "It was so light and airy, whereas the apartment was dark and dingy. Here you have to try and shut out some of the light, it's too much."
The husband and children were brought along for their opinions and everyone loved it. With many children and grandchildren between them, the couple felt they needed a house for everyone to come together and enjoy. They set about enlarging and improving the existing house to make it suitable for themselves and those large family occasions.
A dining room was the most essential element that was missing and they decided to convert the large pergola off the kitchen into the dining room.
"It's not easy to cool a conservatory," says the owner. "We put in triple-glazing and its own air conditioner. And making the room cozy was not simple either."
They solved the problem with the use of Belgian windows, a lovely flowery material for the curtains and filmy drapes in a delicate taupe shade. The long dining table - epicenter of all those family gatherings - was custom-made while the elegant chandelier above it put just the right finishing touch to the room.
Its position next to the large wooden kitchen was convenient and the kitchen itself was enlarged to provide the extra cabinets that keeping a kosher kitchen requires.
"We found a good carpenter who matched up the new cupboards," explains the owner. The long refectory table is used for the less formal occasions. Because of the open plan, she never feels cut off from the company when cooking or serving a dinner.
The lounge is decorated in shades of light turquoise and cream and the owner points out what a peaceful and soothing color scheme it is. As a painter she often uses similar colors in her canvases, she says.
"I used to live in a much grander house full of antiques and I don't think they look right here. I like to keep things clean and uncluttered and I really feel that old European furniture is not right for this climate."
Instead, she has light modern furniture and confides that she often has things made here that she has seen abroad. Little touches like the homemade ceramics, potted palms and flower arrangements, both real and silk, bring warmth to what might otherwise have seemed a little cold. The only exception to the "no antique" rule in the lounge is the placing of a tall Damascus inlaid armoire "to hide the air-conditioning unit."
A small room off the entrance hall is the place for watching television and reading. It's decorated in browns and creams with a stone fireplace which makes it especially cozy.
Stone is also used for the banister of the majestic staircase which leads to the master bedroom, decorated in off-white linen and furnished with a Damascus inlaid dressing table and custom-made headboard and side tables. A large angel doll sits in the corner on a brick-red easy chair. Several other bedrooms are ready and waiting for the ever welcome family visitors.
The entrance hall is long and the two wings of the house extend on either side of it. They were lucky to find the perfect piece of furniture for this room, an ornate rectangular trunk from Burma on which sit flowers and ceramic pieces. On either side of this trunk are glass display shelves for different works of art.
"There are so many ugly houses around with flat roofs and plastic shutters that don't look right for this climate," says the owner. "Basically this is a house you might see in Provence in the South of France. I love the slightly rustic style and everything in the house has been chosen with that thought in mind."
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